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Balboa Island

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Album Review

A problem with bands that have been on the scene for over 40 years (count 'em) is that they can sometimes still write songs with titles like "The Beat Goes On" and "Buried Alive," as if those tropes hadn't lost their edge several decades ago. On the other hand, when a band has played together for four decades its members have often learned one of rock & roll's great lessons: how to create maximum groove with minimal ingredients. So when the Pretty Things lay down a song as thunderous as "Livin' in My Skin," they do so with the ponderous grace and inexorable momentum of an elephant walking to water. They've also been around long enough to have heard some of their source material at the source, which means that they can deliver an ancient Delta blues like "Feel Like Going Home" with a certain arch authority. (And if you want more cowbell, these guys can deliver that with authority as well — check out the raunchy period piece "Mimi.") On the downside, they sometimes abuse their elder-statesmen status to impose eight minutes of two-chord vamp on their hapless listeners ("[Blues For] Robert Johnson"), and the title track, which closes the album, does so with much more of a whimper than a bang. Not bad at all, but unless you're a die-hard fan you'll want to be a little selective.

Biography

Formed: 1963 in Kent, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Pretty Things were the also-rans of the British Invasion, a band that never got its due. Despite this lack of recognition, they were never quite ignored, cultivating a passionate cult that stuck with them through the decades — a cult that was drawn to either their vicious early records, where they sometimes seemed like a meaner version of the Rolling Stones, or to their 1968 psychedelic masterwork S.F. Sorrow. Some of their fans advocate for the entirety of their catalog, noting how the...
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